On Saturday, the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and ending the constitutional right to abortion, Vice President Kamala Harris shared a message with ELLE readers. In the exclusive video—filmed backstage after the vice president gave a national address in Charlotte, North Carolina, about the state of abortion rights in the U.S.—Harris said: “My concern is that so many women are silently suffering, and we want to make sure that we’re reaching out to let folks know that we’re not gonna judge them. We want them to know that they exist in a country where there is care and compassion and an acknowledgement of the right of each woman to make decisions for herself.”
She continued, “I think on this issue, it’s really important to also just remember: You don’t have to abandon your faith or your deeply held beliefs to agree that the government should not be telling a woman what to do.”
The vice president also emphasized the importance of voting for pro-abortion candidates, explaining that “the right that the Court took away, Congress can put back in place.” President Joe Biden has previously promised that if Democrats are able to take control of Congress and garner enough votes to pass a bill reinstating the protections of Roe v. Wade, he would sign it into law.
In the year since Roe fell, 14 states have instated near-total abortion bans, and the chaos that has followed the Supreme Court’s ruling has led to people being denied—or being forced to travel across the country to receive—essential medical care. In North Carolina, where the vice president spoke on the anniversary, most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy will be banned come July 1.
“Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, extremist elected officials continue to undermine and attack women’s rights, putting their political agenda between a woman and her health care provider,” Harris previously told ELLE. “The consequences of these laws have been heart-wrenching…This fight is about defending our rights, protecting our freedoms, and ensuring all Americans have access to the health care they need.”